Interview: Amber Benson and Christopher Golden
Current Mood: anxious
Current Song: Sally by Jonatha Brooke
INSIDE THE 'CURSED
Little Willow interviews Amber Benson & Christopher Golden about Ghosts of Albion.
What is the origin of Ghosts of Albion?
Amber: Chris was approached by the BBC, who wanted us to create an animated show for the BBCi. Originally, they wanted something more along the lines of Buffy meets Jane Austen or something, but neither of us felt comfortable doing something so derivative. We ended up going for a later, more Victorian setting, and creating the Swift siblings, who would be our main protagonists.
Chris: Yep. The BBC pitched us an idea that they wanted us to come in and develop. We weren't interested in their idea, so we pitched them our own.
Why the name Albion for England? The family name Swift? The character names Tamara etc?
Amber: Chris has a friend named Tamara Swift, and we ended up borrowing her name in sort of an homage. All the other characters were given names based upon our own personal whims at the time we were coming up with the first outline for LEGACY. Obviously, we chose to set the piece in England because it was being created specifically for the BBC. Chris came up with calling the project GHOSTS OF ALBION, because Albion was an archaic name for England/Great Britain, mostly used in a poetic or mythical context. I personally think it sounds a lot more intriguing than Ghosts of England.
Chris: I often meet people and think they have wonderful names for fiction. In my novel THE GATHERING DARK there's a woman named Keomany who is named after a bookstore clerk I met once while doing a signing. In THE MENAGERIE, a series I do with Tom Sniegoski, there's a sorcerer whose last name is Sanguedolce, after a department store clerk. Sometimes names just catch me. When we were creating GHOSTS OF ALBION, I had recently been to a couple of different conventions in Britain and at both of them, spent time with several Buffy fans who were really wonderful people. One of them was a lovely, softspoken school teacher named Tamara Swift (who'd been made up as a vampire by Todd McIntosh the last time I'd seen her). I loved her name, partially because of the obvious connection to Jonathan Swift, author of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. I knew the name was perfect.
What made you pick the mythological and literary figures that you did? Personal favorites, or more of simply who fit the time and style?
Amber: We chose our particular ghosts because they were interesting historical figures, plus they fit iin well with the time period we had chosen. Byron is a particular favorite of mine as a reader, but I've learned so muc about Bodicea and Horatio as the stories have progressed.
Chris: Byron was Amber's pick, for sure, and ended up benefiting the most (aside, perhaps, from William) from her mischievous sense of humor. Horatio was, I believe, my choice. Admiral Nelson is such a formidable character and we needed someone to play the straight man to several of our characters. Bodicea was a surprise choice. We originally had another queen in mind, but when the team at the BBC suggested her, we agreed immediately. Bringing our version of Bodicea to life was a real pleasure.
After the success of the first GoA project, there came a radio/audio special, another animated project, a short story, now a novel that is going to begin a series. Which medium is the hardest to write for? The easiest? Which was the most of a departure from how or what you normally write?
Amber: I'd never really written prose before, so creating the GOA novel, ACCURSED, has been the biggest challenge for me. I've always written plays and scripts, so creating the animated scripts was much easier for me. I've learned so much from working with Chris, but I still feel a bit teetery on my prose legs even as we begin work on the second GOA book.
Chris: Don't let her fool you. From the moment we started GoA: ASTRAY, the novella we did for the BBC (which is available in a limited edition hardcover as well), I knew Amber was a natural. She had all of the storytelling skills from her work on plays and scripts, and is far better read than I am. She adapted very quickly to writing prose. On the other hand, she was instrumental in helping me learns the ropes when we wrote our scripts for the animated GoA adventures. I think the collaboration on the scripts was easier, but working together on the novels is more fully satisfying.
GoA has been brewing for years now, with no end in sight. Where do you see the Swifts in another year? Two years? Five years?
Amber: Chris and I both hope that GOA will eventually make it onto the big screen, but I think we'd also be happy moving the project back to its animated medium. Possibly creating an animated weekly show for television.
Chris: That'd be nice. The truth is, there's so much potential here, with the history of the Protectors of every region of the world and every time period, not to mention just the adventures of William and Tamara and their allies, that we could do comics, animation, TV, movies, etc., and never tell the same story twice.
How many books are projected? Will they all be full-length novels? What about the limited, signed editions from Subterranean Press?
Amber: Right now we are working on the second GOA novel for Del Rey. Plus, we'll be doing some brand new stuff with Subterranean in the future.
Where will you be signing?
Amber: In the first half of November, Chris and I will hit LA, New York, Boston, San Diego and San Francisco. We'll just have to see where we go from there.
Which GoA character is the most like you?
Amber: I feel like a mix between William and Tamara. I've tried to imbue her with as much spunk as possible, and him with all the poncy dialogue I can muster.
Chris: Probably Nigel Townsend, our resident vampire. He's an incorrigible flirt.
What historical figure do you wish would haunt you?
Amber: Today, Edgar Allan Poe. Tomorrow? Who knows.
Chris: I'll stick with the GoA version of Bodicea, who's naked all the time.
What other books do you have on the horizon, Chris?
Chris: In December, my novelization of Peter Jackson's KING KONG will hit shelves. Then, at the beginning of February, THE MYTH HUNTERS arrives in stores. It's the first part of a trilogy I'm writing for Bantam called THE VEIL. I'm having the time of my life on the trilogy. I'm halfway through the second book now. It takes place in two worlds simultaneously, much like STRANGEWOOD, with a lot of moving back and forth. It's about a guy who is about to be married, who has spent his whole life doing what his father expected of him instead of what he really wanted, and even though he loves this woman, the marriage is going to seal the deal on who he's going to be for the rest of his life. And the story is about him discovering what kind of man he really is, instead of what kind of person his father wants him to be. It also has just about every mythological creature I could think of. :)
What other films and TV projects, Amber?
Amber: I have a film that I wrote and directed called, LOVERS, LIARS and LUNATICS, coming out soon, a comic called SHADOWPLAY with Ben Templesmith, and a couple of indie films I acted in this year, along with a Sci-Fi Channel movie called GRYPHON.
Any other collaborative efforts other than GoA?
Amber: Chris and I are also working on getting financing for a film we've written called THE HEIR.
Chris: And we have an original, non GoA dark fantasy novella that we're committed to doing. We're just waiting to get a deadline on it.
This interview is part of the official Ghosts of Albion: Accursed Electronic Press Kit. The EPK also includes the book's press release, reviews, and more. View or download the EPK here.